Sally* was a straight-A student until her absent father arrived on the scene. Because she so longed for her dad’s love, she was vulnerable to his subtle approaches. At 13, in her father’s van, Sally lost her virginity and her sense of worth. Her life plummeted until, at the age of 21, she found Jesus Christ as her Savior. But she wore a mask. Her big question was, “What if the people in my church ever found out?” 


Jenny* was pregnant at 14 and her parents pushed her into having an abortion. Mother’s Day always brought back the shame and sorrow, even though she had a happy marriage and other children. 


Inside Christ’s Church


If it is true that one child out of four has been sexually abused, it is also true that many of these children grow up and become a part of Christ’s Church. Besides those who have experienced sexual abuse, many people have been damaged in other ways. They wear masks to hide their pain, while wondering if God really cares.

In a time of increasing sexual, physical, and emotional abuse, our churches have a great need for Scripture-based ministry to those who are prisoners to the past. Fortunately, the Bible gives us an example for ministering to broken people.


The Fall of Judah


The fall of Judah had been devastating. Although God had warned His people over and over, they’d rejected His call. That brought judgment.  Innocents suffered because others chose to sin. Now, God’s people remaining in Jerusalem were too defeated to rise above their ruins. Was there a God who heard their cries and cared about their tears?


Even though it seemed overwhelming, God had the answer. His name was Nehemiah. Nehemiah was not a man of great importance. In fact, because of the sins of his forefathers, Nehemiah was a prisoner of war, a lowly slave in Babylon. A man with issues of his own, Nehemiah did not realize that God was about to change his destiny.


As a slave elevated to the position of cupbearer and confidante to King Artaxerxes, Nehemiah understood that his very existence depended on a pleasant demeanor. It was the mask he wore. But on this particular day his pain was too great. He could not hide the deep sorrow in his eyes. Since hearing of the broken walls and the great piles of rubble in the city of Jerusalem, Nehemiah was devastated. What could be done? Who would go? 


Nehemiah wept and fasted and prayed. His brokenness became a burden. When his burden grew so big that he could not keep his mask in place, he prayed a very specific prayer. God granted him favor with the king and Nehemiah went to the city of Jerusalem.


Surveying The Damage


Upon arrival, Nehemiah surveyed the damage. Quietly and at night, with only a few trusted men, he examined the broken walls of this once mighty City of God. He saw the gaps in the walls and the huge heaps of rubble. He listened to the enemies’ taunts. He heard the despair as the people of Judah cried, “there is so much rubble we cannot rebuild.” He sensed their fear and shame. Nehemiah saw broken walls and broken people. It looked hopeless but one man cared. He went beyond caring, he acted.